The new Culloden Visitor Centre opened in 2008 and tells the story of the day in 1746 that changed the Highland way of life forever. The Jacobite forces of Charles Edwart Stuart, who had landed in Scotland in 1745 with the intention of reclaiming the throne, were crushed by a government army commanded by the Duke of Cumberland.
The battle was a culmination of a campaign that saw the Jacobites, folowing their success at Prestonpans, advance through England virtually unopposed and even threaten London. However, lack of support from English Jacobites resulted in the realisation that their forces were vastly outnumbered and a retreat northwards began.
Despite a further Jacobite victory at Falkirk the long march home had seriously weakened the Jacobite army and despie moderate success in minor skirmishes over the winter, by early 1746 Cumberland had reorganised the government forces and was in the much stronger position. The Jacobites had taken Inverness while Cumberland had marched north to Aberdeen and then Nairn.
On the eve of the battle, the Jacobites set off through the night in an attempt to surprise the government forces but the march turned to chaos and the surprise attack never materialised. Despite his troops suffering from lack of food and exhaustion from the night march, Charles Stuart decided to stand his ground and face Cumberland on Culloden moor in what would be the last pitched battle on British soil.
The Jacobites were defficient in terms of numbers, cavalry, cannon and weapons in general. The battle itself lasted less than an hour and was an overwhelming victory for the government troops. In the carnage the Jacobites had lost over 1,000 men killed and wounded - the government a fraction of that figure. However the savagery did not stop there. Cumberland's troops systematically murdered the wounded, prisoners and innocent onlookers who played no part in the battle. The atrocities continued for months after the battle in the villages and glens throughout the region with the blame squarely laid at the hands of Cumberland forever remembered as 'the Butcher.'
The battlefield has now been restored to how it was on 16th April 1746 with new footpaths allowing greater access. A new interpretive exhibition compliments the features found around the battlefield such as the Memorial Cairn & Graves of the Clans.